Duke Ellington

Creole Rhapsody: Duke Ellington in the Thirties

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Duke Ellington established his jazz orchestra during the late 1920s; throughout the '30s he perfected it and laid the foundation for the Blanton/Webster Band he was to lead during the early '40s. Living Era presents Creole Rhapsody, a well-conceived and intelligently organized chronological survey of 44 recordings Duke Ellington made between January 1930 and October 1939. Beautifully restored and carefully annotated with discographical information including labels, recording dates and solo sequences, these marvelous performances illustrate Ellington's remarkable ability to compose and conduct music that was explicitly tailored to fit the abilities, idiosyncrasies and personalities of each individual in the organization. By 1930, trumpeter Bubber Miley's alcoholism had driven him out of the band for good. Over the next decade Ellington's top brass would largely consist of Cootie Williams, Arthur Whetsol and Freddy Jenkins, with cornetist Rex Stewart joining the troupe in 1935. Four concertos from 1936 were conceived and engineered as features for Williams, Stewart, clarinetist Barney Bigard and trombonist Lawrence Brown. During this period, Johnny Hodges could still be heard playing the soprano as well as the alto saxophone; the unmistakable Ellington sound was also made possible by bassist Wellman Braud; saxophonists Otto Hardwick, Harry Carney and Ben Webster; and trombonists Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton and Juan Tizol. Noteworthy highlights include the vertigo-inducing "Merry-Go-Round," the locomotive-inspired "Daybreak Express," Ellington and Carney's masterpiece "Rockin' in Rhythm," the original six-minute "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue" and Ellington's very personal 12-minute requiem for his mother, "Reminiscing in Tempo."

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:00
2 3:01
3 2:55
4 2:57
5 2:58
6 6:29
7 3:29
8 3:13
9 3:19
10 2:55
11 3:01
12 3:15
13 3:10
14 3:40
15 3:00
16 3:10
17 3:09
18 3:34
19 2:57
20 3:04
21 3:34
22 3:22
23 3:02

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:13
2 3:03
3 12:07
4 2:49
5 3:13
6 3:02
7 3:13
8 2:57
9 3:01
10 3:25
11 2:42
12 5:54
13 3:07
14 2:47
15 2:58
16 3:08
17 3:01
18 3:01
19 2:59
20 2:43
21 2:44
blue highlight denotes track pick